Pittsgrove's Kelly ahead of the game
BARBOURSVILLE -- No matter whether school or soccer, Ryan Kelly has always stayed one step ahead of the game.
Kelly, a forward for the Pittsgrove Premier Futbol 92 Lightning (N.J.) U-17 Boys, started his senior year at 16-years-old and recently graduated at 17 from West Deptford H.S.
After signing with Marshall University to play soccer, the multi-talented Kelly seized the opportunity to represent his state in his future college town.
Unfortunately for Kelly, his team fell 2-1 to the FC Stars of Massachusetts during Monday's semifinal, but it didn't dampen the experience he's had this week.
"We came one step closer than last year. It's a shame that I went out on the losing end, but I look forward to my career here at Marshall," Kelly said. "This has taught me a lot player-wise and character-wise. You have to battle through all the adversity. You can't just stop."
Kelly isn't your average 17-year-old.
His advanced maturity is something he acquired at a young age. After being enrolled in school early by his parents, Kelly was diagnosed with diabetes soon after.
"It doesn't stop me," Kelly said. "I had to grow up a little bit faster, be responsible and learn quick."
Even with difficult circumstances, Kelly has maintained a 4.2 grade point average while also being named to New Jersey's Olympic Development Program (ODP). He was also a 2009 New Jersey All-State Soccer selection as well as a four-year varsity player at West Deptford.
With such a background, there were plenty of reasons for Marshall men's soccer coach Bob Gray to recruit Kelly, but the future Herd freshman added another credential to his list this week.
He showed his teammates -- many of them Class of 2011 players -- around Marshall's campus this week and let them know what the school had to offer.
"During the opening ceremonies, I showed them where things were located -- the entrance to our locker room, the campus and everything," Kelly said. "They thought it was a great experience and liked the campus. They really liked how it wasn't too big, but wasn't too small either. Everything is just in a compact area."
For now, Kelly is headed back to New Jersey for a month to rest and gear up for his return to the Huntington area in a month when he starts his career with the Herd.
And if his past is any indication, expect Kelly to be eager to learn quick and start early.